Celtics Should Know Better Than to Listen to Phil Jackson’s Playoff Predictions

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January 20, 2011

Celtics Should Know Better Than to Listen to Phil Jackson's Playoff Predictions Phil Jackson is more than a man. He's a living, breathing psychology test.

People in pro sports get asked a lot of questions by the media, and each answers with his own style. Some speak their minds truthfully and insightfully, while others give the standard cliches and avoid controversy. Some dodge as many questions as possible.

Jackson, the Los Angeles Lakers head coach with more championship rings than fingers to don them, operates on another level altogether. He's a grandmaster of public relations. He's Garry Kasparov over the chessboard, and the rest of us are toddlers playing with blocks.

The Zen Master says stuff, but never for the reasons you might expect at face value. There's always an ulterior motive, always a hidden meaning you won't see unless you look closer.

So when Jackson says that the Miami Heat can't win the Eastern Conference this season, that the odds are stacked against them, that the Celtics are "too good?"

Well, that's nice. But let's not get carried away.

If the Celtics draw even one iota of added confidence from Jackson's words, they're out of their minds. A savvy veteran team should know better than to get caught up in the Zen Master's ploys.

Is Jackson right? Yeah, probably. The Celtics are a solid three games up on the Heat in the East, and they've mercilessly picked them apart in two head-to-head meetings this season.

Does he himself believe that he's saying? Maybe, possibly. But that's irrelevant.

When Jackson speaks, he's always got a trick up his sleeve. And his motives here could be complex. They could be three-fold:

1. He's trying to take a jab at the Heat, who demolished them on Christmas Day. "You might have beaten us once," he's hinting, "but you're not so great."

2. He's trying to instill a false sense of security in the Celtics, who are slated to take on Jackson's Lakers twice in the next month. Now's the time to mess with their heads.

3. He's trying to slight the Eastern Conference's other contenders — Orlando, Chicago, Atlanta — by ignoring them entirely. Classic Laker elitism.

Whatever Jackson's intentions might be, don't be so naive as to think he's simply showing Boston respect. With Jackson, it can't ever be that simple. We're dealing with a guy who's lived his whole life in humungous media markets — Los Angeles, Chicago, even New York back in his playing days — and he knows how to rule the PR game. He's thinking eight moves ahead.

Phil Jackson might think the Celtics are headed back to the Finals. He might not. In either case, the C's should just block it out and keep playing. Nothing good can come of listening to the Zen Master.

What was the motive behind Phil Jackson's comments about the Heat? Share your thoughts below.

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